Centralised / Dispersed

Centralised      -       Dispersed

Many sincere men feel that liberty, even though it may contribute most to internal welfare, cannot stand up against despotism in the external struggle. Liberty, they argue, means too much dissipation of energy, too much delay, too much division. These feelings make it easier for them to accept the loss of liberty as an inevitable destiny.

Then, in the economic structure, the economic arrangements which during the past several centuries aided political liberty, are being rapidly swept away. Private-capitalist ownership of the economy meant a dispersion of economic power and a partial separation between economic and other social forces in a manner that prevented the concentration of an overwhelming single social force.

Today the advance of the managerial revolution is everywhere concentrating economic power in the state apparatus, where it tends to unite with control over the other great social forces--the army, education, labor, law, the political bureaucracy, art, and science even. 

This development, too, tends to destroy the basis for those social oppositions that keep freedom alive.

[James Burnham]
The Machiavellians: Defenders of Freedom, p.227

[…] any organisation has to strive continuously for the orderliness of order and the disorderliness of creative freedom. And the specific danger inherent in large-scale organisation is that its natural bias and tendency favour order, at the expense of creative freedom.

We can associate many further pairs of opposites with this basic pair of order and freedom. Centralisation is mainly an idea of order; decentralisation, one of freedom. The man of order is typically the accountant and, generally, the administrator; while the man of creative freedom is the entrepreneur. Order requires intelligence and is conducive to efficiency; while freedom calls for, and opens the door to, intuition and leads to innovation.

[E.F. Schumacher]
Small is Beautiful, p. 203

[...] I have reached the conclusion that large-scale production, all issuing from one unit, is also a phenomenon due to cheap and plentiful oil, and is being brought into question as that period of cheap and plentiful oil draws to a close.

[...] I can't see anything that man really needs that cannot be produced very simply, very efficiently, very viably on a small scale with a radically simplified technology, with very little initial capital, so that even little people can get at it.

If you have a technological trend, as we've had for the last hundred years, for everything to become bigger and bigger, more and more complex, more and more capital-demanding, then of course more and more people get excluded. The thing is reserved for people already rich or powerful.

The technology has grown beyond the human scale. The question is, Can we bring it back to the human scale?

We have been at this, with an organization called the Intermediate Technology Development Group, for ten years. And wherever we have tried, we have found, yes, of course, it's perfectly possible. If we want to make cement - although the trend of the cement industry has been to go from small to ever, ever bigger, and now there are installations where half a million tons of cement a year are produced from one factory - if we use the know-how that we have and make the design study, we can have a mini-plant.

And, instead of having one whopper plant in one place, making half a million, we can have a hundred plants scattered around, where the resources are and where the demand is, to make a few thousand tons a year each. This can be done; it can also be done with bricks, it can be done with chipboard, it can be done wherever we've tried. It can be done.

[E.F. Schumacher]
Good Work, p. 20-22

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